In the history of cinema, there are few scenes more iconic than the opening of The Godfather, as Don Vito Corleone sits behind his desk on the day of his daughter’s wedding, and Bonasera begs him for justice. Thus begins a movie masterpiece. It’s a story of family, crime, and the American Dream.
With The Godfather: Corleone’s Empire, Eric M. Lang has added a new chapter to the tale. As with all of his designs, Lang wants to immerse players into the narrative of the game.
“I want people to tell stories about the cool things they did in the game,” he explains. When the opportunity to design a game based on The Godfather, one of his favorite movies, presented itself, he jumped at the opportunity.
Staying true to the source material was very important for Lang. “One of the things I like about The Godfather is that it is so iconic,” he explains. “So a lot of the tropes we have about the mobster genre come from that story.”
The Godfather: Corleone’s Empire takes place during a similar timeline to the movie. New York City in the 1950s was a town full of opportunities for those willing to take them. Players are the heads of one of five different criminal families looking to get in a position to snatch control of Don Vito’s enterprise, should anything happen to him. Over the course of four acts, they send out their hired thugs and family members to shakedown businesses to acquire money, illegal goods, and other benefits. These can then be used to complete different jobs for Don Corleone, earning them more money and special abilities. With so much competition, there’s bound to be turf wars, and controlling a neighborhood can lead to powerful bonuses. Players stash money in the included metal suitcases to hide their wealth, or reveal it to bribe influential Allies to join their criminal organizations and assist them with their illegal activities. Ultimately, players are trying to gain the most money, but money in hand might have to be paid as tribute to the Don. Players must find ways to launder their money if they want to keep it safe until the end of the game.
The four acts in The Godfather: Corleone’s Empire are broken up into phases. The meat of the action takes place during the Family Business phase, when the shakedown of businesses occurs. The board, representing New York in the 1950s, is broken up into seven different turfs, each featuring various businesses. Low level Thugs can be sent to shakedown the front of a business, acquiring new jobs, money, and illegal goods. However, if they’re encroaching on another player’s turf, that player also gets the benefit. Family Members are trusted parts of the organization, and thus much more powerful. They are placed in locations that border two or three Turfs, and shakedown the front of all of the businesses in the adjacent Turfs. During this phase, players can also complete jobs for the Don, discarding the required illegal goods cards, and gaining the associated benefits, or play an Ally card, executing that character’s ability.
During the Turf War phase, players determine who has control of the different areas of the city. Controlling a Turf means added benefits when a player shakes down a business in your hood. It can also lead to points at the end of the game. The Bribery phase allows players to bid on new Allies by placing money in the top of their suitcase and dropping them for a reveal at the same time. Players must discard down to a hand size limit for the Tribute to the Don phase. Finally, during the Entr’acte, players remove figures from the board and prepare for the next act of the game.
Lang has created a game that places players in the middle of a new tale in The Godfather saga. Each game of The Godfather: Corleone’s Empire forces players to exercise their criminal will on their opponents, grab control of Turf, and when necessary, send some people to sleep with the fishes.
The Godfather: Corleone’s Empire is available now in CMON Play member FLGSs and will have a wider release on July 28.
This article originally appeared in GTM Magazine. More information here.
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